Vaginal dryness and associated painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, can occur in women for a wide range of reasons. While vaginal dryness does not usually have any significant health consequences, it can cause discomfort and affect a woman’s sexual health.
Women of all ages can experience vaginal dryness. This condition occurs when the tissues of the vagina lack normal lubrication.
Common Causes Of Vaginal Dryness
Vaginal dryness is a common symptom of menopause. A drop in estrogen can reduce the fluid that lines the vagina. Estrogen levels can drop for other reasons, such as childbirth, breastfeeding, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, surgical removal of the ovaries or when using certain anti-estrogen medications used to treat endometriosis, uterine fibroids or breast cancer.
The most common treatment for vaginal dryness is topical estrogen therapy. Estrogen therapy can help replace the missing hormone and relieve symptoms. Vaginal estrogen is available in several varieties, such as a vaginal ring, tablet or cream. Non-estrogen treatments have been developed to treat vaginal dryness including vaginal prasterone, oral ospemifene and a vaginal fractional CO2 laser (MonaLisa Touch).
Lubricants can be used during intercourse to make sex less painful. Vaginal moisturizers can be used daily to help maintain natural moisture in the vagina.
Pain caused by vaginal dryness may be felt in the vulva and/or the opening of the vagina. Discomfort may also be felt in the lower back and pelvis area. This discomfort can range from a feeling of dryness or tightness to severe soreness.
Reasons Why You May Be Experiencing Painful Sex
While vaginal dryness is a common cause of painful sex, it is not the only cause. Conditions such as vulvodynia, vaginismus, endometriosis and certain sexually-transmitted diseases can cause painful sex. Allergies and rashes from semen or latex condoms can also cause discomfort during sex. Painful sex can also be caused by certain vaginal infections, such as yeast infections.
Management & Treatment Options
Identifying the cause of painful intercourse is the first step in managing the condition. If the discomfort is caused by a vaginal infection or other condition, your doctor can help you treat the underlying problem.
Other self-help measures can also be used to relieve pain during sex, such as the use of lubricants, trying sexual activities that do not cause pain, emptying your bladder before sex and using over-the-counter pain relievers.
Contact Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness Today
If you suffer from vaginal dryness or painful sex, know that you are not alone. An estimated 3 out of 4 women experience pain during sex at some point. For more information about managing vaginal dryness or painful sex, reach out to the experts at Raleigh Gynecology & Wellness by calling 919.636.6670 or scheduling an appointment online.